Dealing with the ‘A’-word

We appreciate allies, but we also want to preserve LGBT-only space

HARDY HABERMAN  |  Flagging Left

As most of my friends and readers know, I am an active member of the leather community. What you might not know is that there is currently a brouhaha raging in that community about who really belongs or doesn’t belong.

It reminds me of the debates about how many letters to append to LGBT. Right now it’s up to eight with a tongue-twisting “LGBTQQAI” as the latest permutation (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Allies, Intersex).

The letter that has caused so much discussion among leather folk is the “A,” which stands for “allies” in the alphabet soup that is political correctness.

I have a great affinity for allies, and most of them would fall into the category of “straight.”

Straight people, or the “heterosexuals” as some call them, are not a bad group for the most part. Some of my best friends are straight, and to their credit they often march with us in the local Pride parade.

The problem in the leather world with straight people is that not all of them are allies. Many of them fall into the category of what I could call “sexual tourists,” free-thinking (or at least thrill-seeking) heterosexuals who poke about in the world of leather to spice up their love lives.

Now, I am not opposed to people having rich and exciting sex lives. I think that is one of the great gifts our creator endowed us with.

Sex can be fun, if you do it right, and so I have no problem sharing advice and venues with my straight fellows.

Where I do have a problem is when they take over space that was previously the venue of queer leatherfolk or, more often, state their resentment at queer leatherfolk wanting their own spaces.

In the vanilla world this is happening as well. Just look at the gentrification of gayborhoods across the country.

When the San Francisco Eagle Tavern, a landmark of leather history in that city, closed to be remodeled as a straight bar the issue became even clearer.

Right here in Dallas, the Oak Lawn/Cedar Springs gayborhood is in flux as well. New businesses and developments are springing up everywhere.

That in itself is not a bad thing, but when folks move into what is essentially an “entertainment district” they have to expect the kind of lifestyle that goes with the territory.

I have heard complaints about parking on the street — not surprising since parking is at a premium. But for those who are miffed about it, try finding a parking space in Greenwich Village in New York.

Recently, new metrosexual residents of San Francisco’s Castro District have been bemoaning the open display of affection between same-sex couples on the street. Well, when you move into the most famous gay neighborhood in the world, you are going to see that!

Same thing here in Dallas; it comes with the territory.

As in the leather community, there are spaces that have been staked out through years of struggle as “leather-space,” and though we have made our straight friends welcome, they cannot expect us to surrender the space completely.

In our LGBT community as well, we can welcome our allies, but not surrender our identity or our “queer space’ to them.

It is not a matter of hospitality, it is a matter of preserving hard-earned turf.

I understand that many LGBT folks want to fully assimilate into society, and I believe that is not a bad thing when it comes to rights and duties of citizenship in our country.

But I also do not want to blend in so completely that I disappear.

Like many ethnic minorities, I still value the culture I grew up with as a gay man, and I don’t want to see all of it surrendered to make straight allies feel welcome. They are welcome as long as they understand the importance of our space.

It is true in the LGBT community and the leather community, and it is something our allies would be better off understanding.

As a child I used to complain to my mother about Mother’s Day. “When is kids day?” I’d ask her.

And she would smile and answer: “Every day is kids day.”

Now I understand her logic.

In our society, everywhere is “straight space,” so neither we nor our allies should find it unusual at all that we want our own “queer space.”

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and a member of Stonewall Democrats of Dallas. His blog is at http://dungeondiary.blogspot.com.

—  John Wright

San Francisco’s Eagle Tavern closes

Two weeks ago, we told you first that Dallas Eagle co-owner Mark Frazier was in negotiations to become co-owner of the landmark San Francisco leather bar Eagle Tavern, and last week we

Mark Frazier

reported that Frazier had dropped his bid to buy the bar because of the landlord’s plan to drastically increase the rent on the property.

Now comes word, via the San Francisco Examiner, that after 30 years, the bar has closed its doors, as of last Saturday night, April 30.

The Examiner reports that bar manager Ron Hennis has “expressed interest in ownership but declined requests for an interview and said in a Facebook message that he won’t discuss ongoing negotiations.”

Read the Examiner’s full report here.

—  admin

Dallas Eagle’s Frazier says he can’t save the San Francisco Eagle if landlord doesn’t want him to

Mark Frazier

Mark Frazier, co-owner of the Dallas Eagle, reportedly has dropped his bid to purchase the San Francisco Eagle Tavern, according to the Bay Area Reporter. Matthew Bajko reports:

Mark Frazier, who owns the Dallas Eagle, had been working with Eagle manager Ron Hennis for days to try to buy the bar. But Frazier announced this week that he’s dropping out.

He expressed frustration in trying to deal with the bar’s landlord, John Nikitopoulos, who he said wants to raise the rent, among other issues. He also said Nikitopoulos hasn’t returned his calls. …

Community members have been working to keep the bar LGBT-oriented throughout the month, after it looked like it might be sold to the owner of a different bar, raising fears the business could go straight. That deal didn’t happen. There had been some hope, including on a Facebook page devoted to the bar, that Frazier entering the picture would help.

But Frazier said this week that Nikitopoulos had been “uncompromising.”

“There’s only so much that a business can do to break even,” he said. Frazier said the Eagle’s lost money in the last couple years. He said the bar could turn around, “but a business can only turn around if you have control over your expenditures.” He said that with Nikitopoulos “jumping up the rent to the point where it’s not feasible, that hinders your bottom line.”

—  John Wright

Dallas Eagle co-owner Mark Frazier said to be in negotiations to buy San Francisco Eagle Tavern

Mark Frazier

Mark Frazier, co-owner of Dallas Eagle, and Ron Hennis, manager of the San Francisco Eagle Tavern, are in negotiations for Frazier to purchase the San Francisco bar from owner John Gardiner, according to the San Francisco LGBT newspaper, Bay Area Reporter.

Dallas Voice hasn’t spoken with Frazier to confirm the report, but the newspaper has an extensive story that includes numerous quotes from Frazier, including one in which Frazier indicates that if the sale goes through, he’ll move to San Francisco. “It’s been a dream of mine for a very long time,” Frazier said.

According to the newspaper, Gardiner decided not to sell to the owner of another bar there, a possibility which had upset some in the LGBT community since it might have meant the Eagle would no longer be a gay bar. Frazier told the newspaper that the only thing holding up the deal right now is that neither Frazier nor Hennis has been able to get in contact with the owner of the property where the SF Eagle is located, John Nikitopoulos.

Mark Frazier has long been a huge asset to Dallas’ LGBT community, and we would hate to lose him to San Francisco. But we certainly don’t want to stand in the way of his dream, either! Here’s wishing you all the best, Mark!

—  admin